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Naval Combat Management Systems

Naval Combat Management System is a software-intensive system which has to be flexible enough to operate in a complex naval battle environment

Issue: 04-2014 By Lt General Naresh Chand (Retd)Photo(s): By Thales

A Naval Combat Management System (NCMS) has to perform the following key functions:

Situational Awareness. To be aware of the battle environment at sea which includes surface, subsurface and air. This is collected through sensors like radars, electro–optical systems and sonar.

Intelligence. Convert the above information into actionable intelligence by interpretation, collation, evaluation thereby producing a common operational picture.

Planning and decision-making. This step helps the commanders to rapidly make an actionable plan for decision-making and implementation, in a rapidly changing complex battle environment.

Weapon systems command and control. An effective NCMS will also direct weapon sensors and weapons to engage and destroy incoming threat.

The above functions are carried by the NCMS through the crew, sensors and weapon systems. The whole system could be part of the network-centric warfare (NCW) where each system becomes a separate node with similar nodes on other vessels. NCW concept is more autonomous than hierarchical. NCMS is a software-intensive system which has to be flexible enough to operate in a complex naval battle environment, electronically interact with other sub-systems and be interoperable with systems of vessels of own navy as well navies of friendly countries. It should be able to cope with mass information with minimum crews. NCMS is simple in concept but complex in designing as it has to be tailor-made to suit the operational doctrines and hardware held by a specific navy. It should have open architecture to provide flexibility. Some examples of such systems are given in succeeding paragraphs.


Tacticos. Thales’ answer to the naval combat management system is the CMS family called Tacticos. It is a single CMS for combat and maritime security operations. With its certified openness and scalability of the underlying architecture, Thales delivers a modular Combat Management System, matched to multiple mission profiles and to a variety of vessel types. Open standards technology and a massive amount of subsystems interface implementations, make Tacticos the core of the mission solution. The latest version enables the navies to:

  • Set up networks in coalitions with secure Internet access with ease.
  • Rapidly recognise traffic trends and anomalous behaviour.
  • Identifies relations between contacts of interest emitting Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).
  • Compact and light-weight consoles which can be fitted in large and small naval vessels.
  • 3D net-centric training integrated in Tacticos.

The system operates through the Combat Information Center (CIC) or OpsRoom. Thales also assists their customers by designing optimal layouts and arrangements of these rooms. In addition Thales offers dedicated mission packages such as Anti Air Warfare clusters, Fire Control clusters and Tactical datalink solutions. Tacticos technology is used on board more than 160 ships (from small patrol craft to full-size frigates and destroyers) operated by 20 navies. Which include the US Navy as well as navies in Asia, Europe, the Gulf region, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa.

Compact Sensor & Control System (CSCS). The Compact Sensor & Control System caters for the small ship market providing command and control and even AIS if required. It can be integrated with fire control systems in order to achieve full combat system capabilities. It is based on open-standards and architecture and uses COTS technology.

Commander C3. This is Marine Command, Control, and Communications System for non-Combatant applications. It provides seamless near realtime sharing of the Common Operating Picture (contact data, messages, and geo-referenced map overlays) between vessels, helicopters, and shore installations. Commander C3 also provides gateway interfaces to achieve interoperability with major naval data link standards. The system is ideal for both civilian and military users who require an effective, affordable solution to address the technical and interoperability challengse associated with cooperation and coordination of various maritime agencies.


A Saab 9LV CMS system comes with all the operational capability and functionality required by the ship’s Command which is well suited for all types of platforms ranging from small patrol vessels up to large frigates. Saab can integrate any sub-system selected by the customer. Due to effective situational awareness and rapid precision tactical response in all warfare domains, 9LV provides the ship and the command team with efficient operational capabilities in support of all mission types, both in the open ocean as well as in littoral regions. It can also meet asymmetric threats, as well as modern and estimated future threat types. It provides a range of options for integration of the user interfaces of equipment/sub-systems, for example, through hosted vendor clients, web services, thin clients or fully-integrated human machine interfaces. It also provides touch-input display with soft keys. It can easily be integrated with other sub-systems like weapon systems. A Saab 9LV CMS system comes with all the operational capability and functionality required by the ship’s command. There are more than 200 systems installed worldwide.

Lockheed Martin

The ship’s battle management system, called COMBATSS-21, is produced by Lockheed Martin and derived from the US Navy’s latest Aegis surface combatants. The COMBATSS-21 Combat Management System is the backbone of the Freedom-variant self-defence suite and integrates the radar, electro-optical infrared cameras, gun fire control system, countermeasures and short-range anti-air missiles. COMBATSS-21 provides a flexible, reliable next-generation defence system for the LCS. Its mission capabilities include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; mine warfare; surface warfare; special operations; anti-submarine warfare; maritime interdiction/interception operations; homeland defence and anti-terrorism/force protection.

The system provides a scalable, services-based framework. Custom software “adapters” called boundary components are the key to the flexibility of the architecture to support a wide range of sensors, communication, and weapon interfaces. Boundary components simplify integration of system elements and provide flexibility to accommodate future change. The componentised and layered architecture enables upgrades and changes to any part of the system with minimal impact to the remaining software. Customer defined sensors, communication and weapons are easily integrated and isolated from core components of the command and control system. New components can easily be incorporated to address the unique needs of the customer. Because of its modern architecture, COMBATSS-21 can be hosted on configurations ranging from a single commercial processor running a commercial operating system to more distributed configurations. This makes it readily adaptable to a wide variety of shipboard applications from patrol craft to large deck ships. Its proven software meets requirements for a low-risk, affordable solution that can be easily upgraded to meet evolving threats and environments throughout the ship’s life-cycle.


POLARIS® is a sea-proven compact solution designed to fulfil the need of navies and coast guards. The system features surveillance and protection capabilities for littoral or exclusive economical zones operations. POLARIS® is particularly well adapted to offshore patrol vessel, fast attack craft, fast patrol boat and landing platform dock/landing helicopter dock. Other features are:

  • It can handle an extensive correlation of intelligence data, efficient identification procedures, and enhanced coordination to support sea policing and fighting asymmetric threats,
  • It is a robust and versatile CMS which can easily be adapted for upgrade programmes on all kinds of ships. POLARIS® operates surface-to-surface missile systems as well as defence missile systems. Combined with MATRICS, POLARIS® automatically identifies and points out abnormal behaviour patterns.
  • It has extended connectivity and interoperability with multiple nodes.
  • It can be linked to:
    – Helicopters, special forces and unmanned systems.
    – Sensors for search and also for enemy carrying out electronic warfare.
    – Weapon systems.


ENTCS 2000 Naval Combat Management Systems is designed to assure “knowledge superiority” over potential enemies, shorten decision-making cycles and execute rapid and accurate weapon engagement in the task force. Simultaneously it ensures optimum response to changing events. Based on open, fully distributed architecture and COTS building blocks, the system has enhanced redundancy and no single point of failure. Modular design and scalability assure compatibility with a broad range of existing systems and platforms, from small patrol boats to frigates and from command centres to maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters.

BAE Systems

BAE Systems is the sole supplier and integrator of NCMS for the UK Royal Navy’s surface and sub-surface fleet. Their experience in command and information systems includes interfaces to a wide range of combat system equipment and leading European and US weapon systems. The CMS family supports planning, tactical picture compilation, decision-making and weapon control to meet multiple emergent threats in blue water and littoral operations. CMS-1 is the heart of the combat system, providing situational awareness and weapon control from its intuitive consoles.

CMS-1 was developed for the UK Royal Navy’s Type 45 Destroyers and will support it in service with the Royal Navy for at least the next three decades. A plan of through-life technology refresh and capability upgrades will ensure that CMS-1 continues to meet operational requirements in the future. CMS-1 supports NATO and other coalition operations, and there is a constant effort to evolve programmes to enhance the network enabled capabilities of its sensors and command systems on a number of additional naval ships.


Combat Management Systems includes the following:

  • Surface and sub-surface application
  • Surveillance, multi-sensor data fusion, situation assessment, threat evaluation and weapon assignment/control capability
  • Mission planning and intelligent data management features
  • Open system architecture
  • Excellent real-time performance over dual redundant communication backbone with publish/subscribe paradigm of data network for seamless integration of sensors and house holding data.

Selex ES

Selex ES has developed a family of NCMS solutions named ATHENA with variants to suit various roles. Details are:

Architecture & Technologies Handling Electronic Naval Applications (ATHENA). Athena is state-of-the-art CMS solution, to perform any type of combat mission applied across any class of surface vessels. It is designed to easily integrate every type of sensor, weapon or support system. It provides the command team with the strategic and tactical situation awareness, and effectively manages all deployed force assets and own ship’s resources to accomplish naval objectives and missions.

ATHENA-P is the NCMS developed to provide C2 capabilities on vessels without missiles guidance (i.e. mine hunters, and fast patrol boats, and patrol vessels for paramilitary organisations).

ATHENA-C is the NCMS developed to address the requirements for all classes of combat vessels (fast attack craft, corvettes, frigates, destroyers and aircraft carriers).